How Should Comic Shop Owners Deal With Digital Comics? Start Drinking. (Really.)
A lot of pixels have been spilled recently about Dark Horse going day-and-date digital at a cheaper price point than the print edition, with many retailers feeling undercut. Mark Millar has said we shouldn’t be doing day-and-date at all:
I really think day and date release is a disastrous idea and makes no economic sense at all to comics as a business. It’s potentially ruinous for comic stores, and in the long term it’s not going to do publishers any favors either.
No sane creator, or publisher, wants to see comic shops hurt. We all have emotional connections to them, to the idea of them, and we count owners and employees as personal friends. We aren’t looking for digital to steal customers away from shops, but rather to be an additive thing, to be an additional source of income. To simply switch a current print consumer to a digital consumer does not solve any problems! It benefits no one at all. It will not save us.
So what will save us? In the words of Bluto Blutarsky: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”
If you’re in comics, you’ve spent time in bars. (Oh, don’t deny it, the photos are all up on Facebook.) But the question is: what kind of bars? Do you spend it in old man bars where the average age of the customers goes up by one each year? Are the places dimly lit and crowded, but it’s still happening– or have you not been in that dive since you graduated? Is it a friendly place where you and your friends can hang out? Is there a decent beer list, or do they only sell stuff from the big players, without a hint of imported beer or microbrews? Does the person behind the bar know how to make a decent Harbor Light?
And really, why are you spending time in bars anyway? You can get booze cheaper if you buy it and drink it at home. Much cheaper.
This is where we are now with comic book stores– compare them to your bar on the corner. Maybe it’s a place you’d rather not be at all. Maybe it’s okay for some people, but it’s not the kind of place you’d take your mom on her birthday. Maybe it’s a family place, maybe it’s sports only. And just as some bars die out for a variety of reasons, so too do comic stores.
There are great comic stores out there– Challengers in Chicago, The Secret Headquarters and Meltdown in LA, and New York City has a bunch like Midtown and Manhattan and St. Mark’s and Jim Hanley’s Universe. Each one has a different vibe and feel, but they all know how to reach their customers and they’re all places you want to spend some time in.
Is your store a place you really enjoy spending time in? Or is it a place that’s survived because it’s the only way to get your weekly fix?
There are comic stores that have taken these lessons to heart and made them places you want to go to and spend money, even though you can get stuff cheaper elesewhere.
- Comic Stores Stop Ordering Dark Horse Comics For The Shelf Over Digital Price Point (bleedingcool.com)
- After Retailer Backlash, Dark Horse Clarify Their Digital Plan (bleedingcool.com)